Sunday, 29 March 2015

Boundless terror and the limits of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

To me, feeling 'safe' is something that's definitely weird and unusual. Being somewhere and doing something where I don't feel threatened or afraid that something bad may happen is something which I don't recall has ever happened to me in the past decades, or at least not since my early youth. What it also shows me is that while the terror my PTSD can evoke in me even when not explicitly triggered is practically boundless, there most definitely are limits to my PTSD. Safety is absolutely the keyword.

I feel safe at work, as there's nothing there that's frightening or dangerous in any way. Even having to work the weekend or most of the night to get a fix ready isn't something scary, just another interesting experience. If anything it just makes me feel safer because I know that people trust me enough to rely so much on me.

Outside of work I generally feel mostly safe as well. After having to rely on some of my friends here the past weeks to get some things done which would be very hard to do by myself - such as getting my broken bicycle to the bike store, or picking up a super-heavy package - I have come to realize that my fears that I was completely alone were unfounded and that nobody abandoned me because the perceived me as being weird, a liar, or worse. The fear of abandonment is really quite scary.

After my bicycle accident I feel that I have become more... serious in a sense. Before I'd try to distract myself as much as possible and ending up doing almost nothing of the things I really wanted to do. That kind of apathetic behaviour has been a part of me for a long time, probably since I began my search for answers regarding my intersex condition and kept hitting more and more barriers at all places where they should have been able to help me. Maybe it was just this sense of utter pointlessness which had pervaded me so profusely, with my recent accident and the realization that I could have become crippled or have died shaking up that state.

I have started doing more and more of the things I really want to do, even if I'm still stuck working down this backlog of work from the past years, including this technical book for Packt Publishing which I started on last year and am now rushing to finish up due to the frequent delays from my side. In that regard I have become more like myself. More like the person I think I am, or at least want to be. I think I'll feel even better there once I get this backlog of work cleared up, maybe even safe.

Where things are definitely not feeling safe to me include things like the current apartment I rent. With every sound startling me, the fact that I can hear everything that happens at the upstairs apartment - and with every heating and other warm water pipe in the walls frequently making their sharp, ticking noises - I try to find some calmness in the rare moments that it's virtually quiet. Yet a state of guarded calm is about as far as I get, which is probably one of the reasons why I don't sleep very well and never feel relaxed while at home. I don't go home to relax, but to have a place to eat, sleep and use my laptop, while suffering through the moments when I'd rather flee from the place.

There's also that so many things in this apartment are still broken or dysfunctional. With brown, rusty water from the warm water system in the bathroom, the rolling shutters installations having so many gaps that each room is practically open to the outside, the often almost frightening ticking and other sounds from the heating system and the ability to hear every drop when the upstairs neighbours use the toilet, I had to recently convince the land lady once more that I'm not paying full rent until everything has been fixed to some state of satisfaction. Welcome home, I guess.

The other thing is with these medical complications I mentioned. Since the beginning of this year I have begun to notice an increasing amount of distension and of feeling bloated in my abdomen. With the occurrence of this seemingly linked to my monthly cycle, and with no apparent changes in my gastrointestinal functions (no diarrhea, weight loss, or unusual stool, etc.), a quick differential diagnosis amongst common causes for bloat and distension pretty much only leaves the bloating often experienced during the menstruation cycle. As I also experience severe pain and the sensation of mild to severe inflammation in the vaginal area around the time of the distension, there is a definite correlation.

At this point I'm still tracking the symptoms in order to create a useful summary of the progression of said symptoms to take to my gynaecologist, which will likely be next month. To be honest, for me there is the struggle between the fear of these complications leaving me possibly crippled or dead, and the sheer terror I feel at trying to obtain help from a physician of any type.

While other things also make me feel bad, like attention from males, the sight of heterosexual couples, the flaunting of sexuality and the general discussion of intersex, transgender and homosexuality, there's nothing which terrifies and disgusts me as much as physicians and psychologists, I guess. While I do not wish to feel hatred, it's hard to not feel at the very least bitter disappointment at the mere thought of such people.

So while my PTSD appears to be showing some cracks at this point, there's still a long way to go before I can experience a day which isn't filled with pain, fear and terror. Maybe with another decade or two things will possibly have sorted themselves out. If I make it that far, of course.


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